MSI N560GTX-Ti Twin FROZR II Review

tacohunter52 - 2011-01-25 00:20:49 in Video Cards
Category: Video Cards
Reviewed by: tacohunter52   
Reviewed on: January 25, 2011

Introduction:

The GTX 460 was once a card held in very high regard for those who needed the most bang for their buck. Even so, it's time the GTX 460 meets its successor, the GTX 560-Ti. At a price of around $259 the GTX 560 should be able to find its way into the hands of many users. Hopefully, it will give these users the perfect amount of performance for its price point.

As with all video cards, there will be more than one flavor of the GTX 560. I'll be looking at MSI's offering, the N560GTX-Ti Twin FROZR II. This card is a slightly overclocked version of the GTX 570, and features a beefy dual fan cooler. How will the MSI N560GTX-Ti Twin FROZR II stack up to other GTX 560 releases? Let's find out.

Closer Look:

Next up is the MSI N560GTX-Ti Twin FROZR II. This bad boy comes in a bluish box with a picture of the card. MSI made it look as though the card was a gun shooting a bullet out of the chamber. The front of the box tells us that the card runs 20° C cooler, uses military class components, and comes with a free copy of 3DMARK 11. Flipping the box over once again shows the picture of the N560GTX-Ti looking like a gun. We are also able to see the card's features and the minimum system requirements.

 

 

Opening up the initial packaging reveals a second box that you will need to slide out. This box features a clear cover showing the card in an anti-static bag and the included power cables. Removing the foam box containing the card reveals a compartment featuring the driver CD, the 3DMARK 11 key, the user manual, and a quick users guide.

 

 

Taking a look at the card itself shows us the massive dual 8cm fan cooler. This cooler uses a metal alloy, but a "golden" edition of the card is available with an all copper cooler. Flipping the card over reveals its PCB. I would have liked to see a back plate, but with the massive Twin FROZR II cooler one probably won't be missed. Flipping the card to one side reveals its 8mm heat pipes. The opposing side of the card sports an anti-warp edge. This will help prevent the card from bending while sitting in your case.

 

 

 

As far as connectivity goes, the N560GTX-Ti Twin FROZR II features two dual-link DVI-I connectors, as well as one mini-HDMI 1.4a connector. As for powering the card you'll need to utilize two 6-pin connectors. You'll also be able to pair this bad boy up with another GTX 560 via the card's SLI connector. Last but not least, the N560GTX-Ti Twin FROZR utilizes the ever friendly PCIe X16 interface.

 

 

 

Pulling the HSF off of the card reveals a nickel coated copper base. This large base should be able to dissipate a large amount of heat, which makes it easy to believe that the N560GTX-Ti Twin FROZR II can run 20° C cooler than other cards. Taking a look at the card's PCB we can see its Hi-C capacitors, which use a Tantalum core. We can also see the Super Ferrite Chokes, and the solid aluminum core capacitors.

 

 

Taking a closer look at the cooler we can see that all four of the heat pipes are placed behind the copper base. This means that the surface coming into contact with the card's core will be smoother, which will hopefully dissipate more heat. The heat pipes are then spread pretty evenly amongst the HSF's array of fins.

 

With the cooler fully removed, we can clearly see the 40nm GF110 core. This is an overclocked version of the GTX 560, so the GF110 core has been bumped up to 880MHz. Along with the core's clock increase, MSI bumped the memory clock up to 4200MHz and the shader clock to 1760MHz. To the right of the core we can see one of the N560GTX-Ti Twin FROZR II memory modules. These all total up to the cards 1024mb of GDDR5 memory.

 

Now that we've seen what this baby is made of, let's put her to the tests!

MSI N560 GTX-Ti Twin FROZR II

 

Model Name
V238
GPU
NVIDIA GeForce GTX 560 TI
Codename
GF114
CUDA Cores
384 Units
Core Clock
OC: 880 MHz
Processor Clock
OC: 1760 MHz
Memory Clock
OC: 4200 MHz
Memory Size
1GB GDDR5
Memory Bus
256 Bits
Output
Dual DVI-I + Mini-HDMI
TDP
180W
Card Dimensions
238 x 111 x 37mm
Form Factor
ATX
DirectX
11
OpenGL
4.1
CUDA
Y
SLI
Y
PhysX
Y
PureVideo HD
 Y
HDCP
Y

 

MSI Features

 

 

Testing:

In order to test MSI's N560GTX-Ti Twin FROZR I will run it, as well as comparison cards, through the OverclockersClub.com suite of benchmarks. The benchmarks used consist of many of today's most popular games, and will place each card where it belongs on the performance scale.

The system specifications will remain the same throughout the testing. No adjustment will be made to the respective control panels during the testing, with the exception of the 3DMark Vantage testing, where PhysX will be disabled in the NVIDIA control panel. I will test the cards at stock speeds, then overclocked in order to see the effects of any increases in clock speed. The cards are placed in order from highest to lowest performing in the graphs to show where the cards fall by comparison.

 

 

Comparison Video Cards:

 

Overclocking:

MSI N560GTX-Ti Twin FROZR II: 1027/1117/2054

In order to overclock MSI's card I used MSI's Afterburner 2.1.0 Beta 6. Given the ability to increase the cards voltage, I cranked it as high as it would go before doing anything else. I then began to increase the core and shader clocks in increments of five. This pushed the core clock slightly above the 1GHz mark. Once I found a stable clock speed I went to work on the memory. I reached a memory clock of 1122MHz, and then started running the OCC benchmark suite. After the first benchmark I started having problems, so I bumped the memory clock down to 1117MHz. After doing so I was able to run through the entire OCC benchmark suite without any problems. Although the N560GTX-Ti Twin FROZR II is supposed to run 20° C cooler then other cards, the temperatures still shot right up with the increased voltage and clock speeds. In order to correct this I set the fan at a reasonable 86% of max speed. I was pleasantly surprised that this wasn't all that loud. In the end, I was happy with my overclock, because I was able to bring everything over the 1GHz mark.

 

Maximum Clock Speeds:

In the past, I had used MSI's Kombuster utility to check for stability coupled with the ability to run through the entire test suite. I have found that some game tests would still fail with this utility, so I have moved to testing with several games at maximum settings through several resolutions to verify the clock speeds that are listed below. Why the change? I have found some cards will play fine at a 4xAA setting, but fail when using 8xAA due to the increased graphics load. If it fails, then the clock speeds and tests are rerun until they pass.

   

 

  1. Aliens vs. Predator
  2. Metro 2033
  3. Crysis Warhead
  4. Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2
  5. Just Cause 2
  6. Unigine Heaven Benchmark 2.1
  7. Batman: Arkham Asylum
  8. Battlefield: Bad Company 2
  9. 3DMark 06 Professional
  10. 3DMark Vantage
  1. Temperature
  2. Power Consumption

Aliens vs. Predator, developed by Rebellion Developments, is a science fiction first-person shooter and is a remake of its 1999 game. The game is based off the two popular sci fi franchises. In this game, you have the option of playing through the single player campaigns as one of three species, the Alien, the Predator, and the Human Colonial Marine. The Game uses Rebellion's Asura game engine that supports Dynamic Lighting, Shader Model 3.0, Soft Particle systems, and Physx. To test this game, I will be using the Aliens vs. Predator benchmark tool with the settings listed below. All DirectX 11 features are enabled.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

The N560GTX-Ti Twin FROZR II performed reasonably well in this benchmark. Compared to the other two GTX 560-Ti's, the MSI card performed in between the two.

Testing:

Part first-person shooter, part survival horror, Metro 2033 is based on the novel of the same name, written by Russian author Dmitry Glukhovsky. You play as Artyom in a post-apocalyptic Moscow, where you'll spend most of your time traversing the metro system, with occasional trips to the surface. Despite the dark atmosphere and bleak future for mankind, the visuals are anything but bleak. Powered by the 4A Engine, with support for DirectX 11, NVIDIA PhysX and NVIDIA 3D Vision, the tunnels are extremely varied — in your travels, you'll come across human outposts, bandit settlements, and even half-eaten corpses. Ensuring you feel all the tension, there is no map and no health meter. Get lost without enough gas mask filters and adrenaline shots and you may soon wind up as one of those half-eaten corpses — chewed up by some horrifying manner of irradiated beast that hides in the shadows just waiting for some hapless soul to wander by.

 

Settings:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

MSI's card performed very close to ATI's 6950, and once again right in between the other two GTX 560s.

Testing:

Crysis Warhead is a standalone expansion pack situated in time with the story line of the original Crysis. As Sergeant "Psycho" Sykes, you have a secret mission to accomplish on the far side of the island. Along the way there are EMP blasts and aliens to contend with, as you hunt down the KPA chief. This game uses an enhanced version of the CryEngine 2.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

The MSI N560GTX-Ti Twin FROZR once again performed very well, however I was surprised to see it perform slightly under the GTX 470 at the highest resolution.

Testing:

Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2 is an iteration of the venerable first person shooter series, Call of Duty. Despite its long, successful pedigree, the game is not without substantial criticism and controversy, especially on the PC. Aside from the extremely short campaign and lack of innovation, the PC version's reception was also marred by its lack of support for user-run dedicated servers, which means no user-created maps, no mods, and no customized game modes. You're also limited to 18-player matches instead of the 64-player matches that were possible in Call of Duty 4: Modern Warfare. Despite all this, the game has been well received and the in-house IW 4.0 engine renders the maps in gorgeous detail, making it a perfect candidate for OCC benchmarking. You start off the single player missions playing as Private Allen and jump right into a serious firefight. This is the point where testing will begin. Testing will be done using actual game play with FPS measured by Fraps.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

MSI's card once again performed in between the reference GTX 560-Ti and ASUS's flavoring. I was also pleased to see the card continue to give every ATI card a run for its money.

Testing:

Just Cause 2 is a third-person shooter that takes place on the fictional island of Panau in Southeast Asia. In this sequel to 2006's Just Cause, you return as Agent Rico Rodriguez to overthrow an evil dictator and confront your former boss. When you don't feel like following the main story line, you're free to roam the island, pulling off crazy stunts and causing massive destruction in your wake, all beautifully rendered by the Avalanche Engine 2.0. In the end, that's what the game basically boils down to — crazy stunts and blowing things up. In fact, blowing things up and wreaking havoc is actually necessary to unlock new missions and items.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

MSI's offering was once again able to outperform ATI's 6970 and stay in between the reference GTX 560 and ASUS's offering.

Testing:

Unigine Heaven Benchmark 2.0 is a DirectX 11 GPU benchmark based on the Unigine engine. What sets the Heaven Benchmark apart is the addition of hardware tessellation, available in three modes — Moderate, Normal and Extreme. Although tessellation requires a video card with DirectX 11 support and Windows Vista/7, the Heaven Benchmark also supports DirectX 9, DirectX 10 and OpenGL. Visually, it features beautiful floating islands that contain a tiny village and extremely detailed architecture.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

The N560GTX-Ti Twin FROZR was once again able to perform in between the other GTX 560 offerings, and once again give the ATI 6950 a run for its money.

Testing:

Batman: Arkham Asylum is a new game that brings together two bitter rivals, the Joker and Batman. The Joker has taken over Arkham Asylum, Gotham's home for the criminally insane. Your task is to rein the Joker back in and restore order. This game makes use of PhysX technology to create a rich environment for you to become the Dark Knight.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

We saw MSI's offering give great performance in our Batman benchmark, however it still performed just under ASUS's flavor.

Testing:

Battlefield: Bad Company 2 is a first-person shooter developed by EA Digital Illusions CE (DICE) and published by Electronic Arts for Windows, PS3 and XBox. This game is part of the Battlefield franchise and uses the Frostbite 1.5 Engine, allowing for destructible environments. You can play the single player campaign or multiplayer with five different game modes. Released in March 2010, it has so far sold in excess of six million copies.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Higher = Better

 

I was pleased, once again, to see MSI's GTX 560-Ti compete with the 6950.

Testing:

3DMark 11 is the next installment for Futuremark in the 3DMark series with Vantage as its predecessor. The name implies that this benchmark is for Microsoft DirectX 11 and with an unintended coincidence, the name matches the upcoming date in number (which was the naming scheme to some prior versions of 3DMark nonetheless). 3DMark 11 is designed solely for DirectX 11 so Windows Vista or 7 are required along with a DirectX 11 graphics card in order to run this test. The Basic Edition has unlimited free tests on performance mode whereas Vantage only allowed for a single test run. The advanced edition costs $19.95 and unlocks nearly all of the features of the benchmark and the professional edition runs $995.00 and is mainly suited for corporate use. The new benchmark contains six tests, four of which are aimed only at graphical testing, one to test for physics handling and one to combine graphics and physics testing together. The open source Bullet Physics library is used for physics simulations and although not as mainstream as Havok or PhysX, it still seems to be a popular choice.

With the new benchmark comes two new demos that can be watched, both based on the tests but unlike the tests, these contain basic audio. The first demo is titled "Deep Sea" and have a few vessels exploring what looks to be a sunken U-Boat. The second demo is titled "High Temple" and is similar to South American tribal ruins with statues and the occasional vehicle around. The demos are simple in that they have no story, they are really just a demonstration of what the testing will be like. The vehicles have the logos of the sponsors MSI and Antec on their sides with the sponsorships helping to make the basic edition free. The four graphics tests are slight variants of the demos. I will use the three benchmark test preset levels to test the performance of each card. The presets are used as they are comparable to what can be run with the free version so that results can be compared across more than just a custom set of test parameters.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

The MSI N560GTX-Ti Twin FROZR once again performed in the same range as the other GTX 560's. This also happened to be above ATI's 6870 and close to the 6950.

Testing:

Featuring all-new game tests, this benchmark is for use with Vista-based systems. "There are two all-new CPU tests that have been designed around a new 'Physics and Artificial Intelligence-related computation.' CPU test two offers support for physics related hardware." There are four preset levels that correspond to specific resolutions. "Entry" is 1024x768 progressing to "Extreme" at 1920x1200. Of course, each preset can be modified to arrange any number of user designed testing. For our testing, I will use the four presets at all default settings.

 

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

   

   

Higher = Better

 

Once again the MSI card performs great and is able to compete with everything ATI has to offer.

Testing:

Temperature testing will be accomplished by loading the video card to 100% using MSI Kombuster, which is paired with MSI's Afterburner overclocking utility for temperature monitoring. I will be using the stability test set to a resolution of 1920 x 1200 using 8xAA. I will use a 15 minute time frame to run the test, ensuring that the maximum thermal threshold is reached. The fan speed will be left in the control of the driver package and video card's BIOS for the stock load test, with the fan moved to 100% to see the best possible cooling scenario for the overclocked load test. The idle test will be a 20 minute cool down with the fan speeds left on automatic in the stock speed testing and bumped up to 100% when running the overclocked idle and load testing. For load testing the GTX 580 and GTX 570, I will use Crysis Warhead run at 2560 x 1600 using the Gamer setting with 8xAA looping the Avalanche benchmark scenario, as I have found this to put a load close to that of Kombuster on a video card. This is needed as a way around the current limiting ability of the GTX 500 series when it detects programs that put an unrealistic load on the GPU, which Kombuster does.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

  

  

Lower = Better

 

The MSI N560GTX-Ti Twin FROZR II turned out to be a fairly cool card, but for something that is supposed to perform 20° C cooler than the competition, I expected a bit more.

Testing:

Power Consumption of the system will be measured in both idle states and loaded states and will take into account the peak voltage of the system with each video card installed. I will use MSI Kombuster to load the GPU for a 15 minute test and use the peak load of the system as my result for the maximum load. The idle results will be measured after 15 minutes of inactivity on the system. For load testing the GTX 500 series, I will once again use Crysis Warhead run at 2560 x 1600 using the Gamer setting with 8xAA looping the Avalanche benchmark scenario.

Settings

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

   

   

Lower = Better

 

MSI's N560GTX-Ti performs more or less in the middle of our charts for the power consumption tests. Its stock load consumption pushed it farther up the charts, but not by much.

Conclusion:

If the release of the GTX 560-Ti didn't do anything else, it did kick the HD 6870's butt. The revamped GF114 core was able to more than outperform the GTX 460, and at some points was almost able to keep up with the 6950. MSI's offering of this midrange beast was able to give a small performance boost over NVIDIA's reference card. Not only that, but it comes with the extremely small price tag of $259.99.

The card was a great little overclocker, and when overclocked, it offered a huge performance boost. The Twin FROZR II not only performed well, it performed cool. That being said, I would have liked to see the card's cooler perform just a bit better. The card was equipped with MSI's military grade components and comes with a free copy of 3DMark 11. Despite the card having such a large dual fan cooler, I was pleased to find out that it wasn't all that loud. In fact, at 86% max speed, the fan was almost inaudible. Users with loud case fans would have to go to a great deal of trouble to hear the GPU's fan. All-in-all I'd recommend this card to any mid- range to high-end user. I can do this because the card is priced extremely well and offers a huge amount of performance.

Pros:

Cons: